WHEN Should We Eat?
There is a growing body of research that supports the old saw about doing breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Along with its impact on sleep, circadian rhythms, and so on, the mounting evidence suggests that we handle food better when we eat early too. A meal eaten in the morning doesn’t cause as big an insulin release as that very same meal eaten in the evening. Having lower insulin levels present at bed time allows our body to get into recovery mode more rapidly. And likely with greater potential for weight loss.
Last week, I had the good fortune to meet up with an old work buddy that I hadn’t seen for a while. He looked pretty trim. While he and I have battled the bulge for as long as we’ve know each other, to my wry eye, he never really put on very much weight! And when he puts his mind to it, I’m guessing he wins far more willpower-dependent dietary battles than I do too.
We didn’t get an opportunity to speak about diet during our get together but we emailed back and forth later. Turns out that he’s been using an “eat early” fasting strategy. Doing a more restrictive version of something our grandmothers might have recommended: eating a large breakfast, a small lunch, but no dinner. And he is quite adamant about eating nothing after 5:00pm. But he also mentions that, while this dietary approach has worked best for him over time, it is beginning to feel like a losing battle. His parting comment was this …
“I know, it’s brutal … and the plan will start cracking over holidays, during birthdays and tradeshows!!!”
I get that!
My friend’s program is essentially an 18:6 fasting regimen, done the right way up. I have gone through periods doing something similar. However, I do my eating in the evening! Mine is more like a 20:4 schedule where I skip breakfast and lunch, then I eat dinner, with seconds, sometimes thirds, and more often than I should, dessert. But all in a four hour block between 6:00pm & bedtime. Did my upside-down version work?
Despite the added insulin it might produce, and even with that shot of the fat storage hormone coming at the worst time of day, it did. I like eating in the evening and that’s what I mostly choose to do. Could I have lost more weight, or at least more rapidly, doing it my friend’s way?
But I generally don’t find my way of eating to be brutal!
And that might be a bigger deal than just about any other when it comes to long term adherence to a diet. There are so many ways we can derail ourselves that we should take advantage of all the bright spots. Imperfect though they might be.
As it happens, I have a celebratory work lunch on the menu later today. While I’m happy with my coffee and cigarette for breakfast, maybe I’ll stop eating after lunch today. Just to see how I fare. And to feel, just briefly, how my friend might feel all at time.
There is nothing like variety when it comes to diet and weight loss! 🙂